AM To FM Conversions

It was stated in the ACMA documents that the proposed FM specs didn’t meet the needs of Bill et al, huge loss of fortitutious coverage to outlying communities and loss of highway coverage so they rightly pulled the pin.

Looking at their stations closer together, there’s no market really where the AM covers beyond the FM reach of the s.39’s, so they should all convert.

Which is an incorrect assumption as the 2kW OD patterns of those sites were never upgraded to 5kW DA or OD sites and considering the propagation characteristics of most markets in regional WA, most should take the FM conversion route, 6SE excepted.

Perhaps Steve Adler and team could advocate DRM to keep on AM and provide reach to those sites they don’t wish to convert. Wishful thinking, however a great solution.


I asked a CRA lady about DRM some years back and she said that they had a hard enough time getting manufacturers to put DAB+ into cars and Home tuners for Australia so trying to get two standards happening was an even more unachievable task


Time has moved on, rights to designs etc have expired or will do soon enough, therefore the prices should be coming down. Manufacturing costs for radio equipment is also at more economical than ever level.

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Considering there is a grand total of 5 DRM receivers manufactured and sold globally (not to mention all the links for the websites to these manufacturers on said site are all dead so it’s hard to say if any of these receivers are even still available for sale) , I don’t think the adoption of the technology will go anywhere anytime soon.


My understanding is that the only country with actual mainstream operational DRM (as distinct from trials or LW broadcasting) is India, however I am not sure of its success to date (am guessing limited). Others on here many know more

With a market that size, it potentially could achieve some critical mass for more manufacturers, however it would be need to be a lower cost per unit compared to most new technologies when introduced into the EU/US (such as DAB / HD Radio) given income levels in India. That would appear about the only way for DRM to go anywhere anytime soon.


Spirit Radio in Karratha has converted to FM yesterday.


Thanks @TV-Expert, with FM conversion comes a huge reduction in ‘driving coverage’.

You will no longer be able to receive the station from a distance at night driving in/out nor even to around the licence area boundary in the daytime.

ACMA’s methodology is all about population rather than coverage for those moving through licence areas.

CRA’s motivation is all about saving money going FM, less op ex and never mind the coverage.

We criticise Bill Caralis and his Super Radio Network when it’s needed, however, a good decision made by the Caralis’s and Alan Bone to not end AM transmission of 2BH.


Agreed, although my vehicle’s AM receiver is next to useless on weak signals due to electrical interference…

For the record, here are all the pending conversions that have been currently earmarked by ACMA:


  • Armidale (2AD). Prediction= 104.3 MHz; swap with TAB required.
  • Bega (2EC). Prediction= 91.3 MHz.
  • Cooma (2XL). Prediction= 96.9 MHz; swap with TAB required. Reduce ERP to the SW to protect 2ABCRN Jindabyne; this area is covered by the existing 2XL/t on 96.3 anyway.
  • Goulburn (2GN). Prediction= 97.9 MHz or 94.3 MHz; swap with TAB may be required.
  • Grafton (2GF). Prediction= 103.9 MHz. Slight ERP increase required.
  • Gunnedah (2MO). Prediction= 104.7 MHz.
  • Inverell (2NZ). Prediction= 92.7 MHz; swap with TAB required.
  • Lismore (2LM). Prediction= No easy solution for this one. Any ideas? I originally had 92.1 (moving Bonalbo to 90.5) but forgot about Breeze over the border! There’s no TAB to shove off any frequency in the area either.
  • Lithgow (2LT). Prediction= 89.5 MHz; move TAB from 89.7 MHz to 900 kHz.
  • Moree (2VM). Prediction= 103.9 MHz; shift TAB Moree from 103.7 MHz to 1530 kHz.
  • Nowra (2ST). Prediction= 91.7 MHz; remove Huskisson translator.
  • Parkes (2PK). Prediction= 103.1 MHz.
  • Tamworth (2TM). Prediction= 90.5 MHz; swap with TAB required (forgot about 2MAX on 91.3)
  • Taree (2RE). Prediction= 93.9 MHz. Find alternate frequency for 4RBL Barrington (93.7) which isn’t yet on air.
  • Young (2LF). Prediction= 106.7 MHz; swap with TAB Orange required.


  • Murray Bridge (5MU)
  • Port Lincoln (5CC)
  • Riverland (5RM)
  • Spencer Gulf North (5AU/5CS)


  • Burnie (7BU)
  • Devonport (7AD)
  • Queenstown (7XS) - I’m sure the status quo will be maintained.
  • Scottsdale (7SD)


  • Wangaratta (3NE)


  • Albany (6VA)

102.9? Would probably see them scrapping their repeaters that Edge FM (3NNN) doesn’t have - 99.1 Mount Buffalo and 90.1 Myrtleford

Yes - thanks for the edit - other Lismore stations can be received in the Breeze service area. First thought was 88.1 (and stuff the narrow banders). I wonder if 100.1 would be OK -closest high power co-channel is ABC Wide Bay and it is 0.8MHz away from 2ZZZ.

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102.9 could be a problem, due to ABC Local Radio using the frequency in Alexandra & Tumbarumba.

My prediction for each market:

Burnie = 100.9
Devonport = 94.9
Scottsdale = 95.7

100.1 is used by 4RIM Boonah.

Yeah, I did remember that one!

I just thought of an easier solution for 2LF as well: 106.7, which would require moving TAB Orange from 106.7 MHz to 1350 kHz. There’s nothing in Wagga city on 106.7 either.

There’s one problem with that proposed frequency for 2TM: it’s being used by 2MAX Narrabri, which is transmitted out of Mt Dowe.

Ah yes, forgot about 2MAX which is the odd one out off Dowe, using the Sydney channels. A frequency swap with TAB on 90.5 MHz would be the best option for 2TM. There might be some issues with ABCRN Tenterfield but given the terrain between the two, probably not (Tamworth FM weakens dramatically after Guyra).

4RBL from near Bulahdelah (Great Lakes) is being earmarked for 94.1 MHz (it’s in the ACMA Broadcast Transmitter Data dated May 3, but I don’t think it’s on-air yet), so 93.9 would be too close for 2RE.

Another option for 2RE would be to either:

  • Swap with TAB for the 105.7 MHz frequency
  • Use either 91.3 or 92.1 MHz.

That 94.1 has been ‘on the books’ for years and it’s never happened, so I’m factoring that one out as well.

91.3 and 92.1 could be used but mutual interference to 91.5 and 92.3 from Moombil might be an issue. They are usually very listenable into the 2RE/Max licence area. 105.7 is probably unsuitable for a high powered service due to ABC Muswellbrook. Co-channelling the Middle Brother and Tamworth services is already pushing it.

Both of which resulting in valuable spectrum being wasted - its bad enough that most of those markets have little or no access to alternate voices other then the ABC

Stop dicking around with analogue radio and start rolling out digital radio regionally


Which in many regional markets will be a single 5kW transmitter from the current FM site - totally unsuitable to actually cover the market.

If radio operators aren’t willing to keep AM services alive for their coverage - they certainly aren’t going to invest in the infill transmitters in an SFN all on fairly low power - including establishing many new transmission sites - all to service a listener base on digital that they largely have already captive on analogue.

If this was just the ACMA dragging their feet, Hobart would have commercial DAB right now.


Neither organisation particularly covers themselves with glory when it comes to this - CRAs efforts to encourage the government to continue the rollout have been half-baked while it’s preposterous that one govt agency in ACMA holds the power to receive regulate spectrum and media (including ownership)

The conversion program is nothing more then helping entrench incumbent players by assisting them reduce cost - FM spectrum is a valuable community asset and poor spectrum planning in the past has resulted in some of the mess that is being discussed in this forum about future frequency allocations. Many of the markets that have been identified already have the FM band filled with what are in effect duplicates of the same offering (be it from commercial or abc) and it’s just not good enough

For all the complaints about the loss of ‘voices’ in our media very little is actually done to open up opportunities for expansion

(And I’ve strayed off-topic… If there is any interest in discussing this we might split it into a new thread)


Changes to regional Tasmania radio services

Listeners of commercial radio stations 7BU Burnie, 7AD Devonport and 7SD Scottsdale in Tasmania may soon have to change the dial if the ACMA accepts proposals by these stations.

The proposals will make FM spectrum available for 7BU and 7AD to convert from AM to FM transmission, and allow 7SD to simulcast its Scottsdale AM transmission in FM.

‘FM radio provides improved audio quality for listeners in regional areas and can be more cost-effective to operate than AM radio,’ said ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin.

‘A number of regional commercial radio stations are seeking to convert their services to FM under an industry-led conversion program. ACMA will facilitate a conversion if we are satisfied that audiences in regional areas do not lose important radio services under the proposal,’ Ms O’Loughlin said.

Scottsdale is the first licence area for which the ACMA has proposed a simulcast arrangement, as the new FM signal won’t cover all the areas served by the AM, including Flinders Island.

‘The licensee, Grant Broadcasters, has assured ACMA that it has no current plans to turn off the Scottsdale AM station. However, we think simulcasting arrangements are necessary for the foreseeable future so that audiences do not miss out,’ Ms O’Loughlin said.

‘We now want to hear from the local audiences of these Tasmanian stations their views on the conversion and simulcasting proposals.’

The ACMA is also proposing to make spectrum available for a second commercial radio service in Queenstown. The new FM channel will enable the 7AUS commercial service to transmit for the first time. The current 7XS service will continue on its existing FM frequency.

A consultation paper released today sets out the variations proposed for licence area plans (LAPs) for each area.

Deadline for submissions is 5 July 2018.


The ACMA is currently consulting on proposals to:

Convert commercial radio stations 7BU in Burnie and 7AD in Devonport from AM to FM.
Allow the Queenstown commercial radio licensee to provide a second FM service in addition to 7XS.
Allow the Scottsdale 7SD commercial radio service to simulcast in FM—the service will continue to be available on the existing AM frequency.

Make other minor changes to the technical specifications of services in the above areas, as well as in Hobart and Launceston.

These changes will be implemented by a variation to the licence area plans (LAPs) for Burnie, Devonport, Queenstown, Scottsdale, Launceston and Hobart. The changes are described in detail in the consultation paper, which is available for download in the table above.

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